ALL IN THE DETAILS: Denise Smith proudly shows an original piece of clothing made by her mother who was a local dressmaker before she was married. It is on display at Ringsfield House.
ALL IN THE DETAILS: Denise Smith proudly shows an original piece of clothing made by her mother who was a local dressmaker before she was married. It is on display at Ringsfield House. Laura Blackmore

Ringsfield's key role in family's full-circle celebration

A SOUTH Burnett couple renewed their wedding vows on their 50th wedding anniversary at the same place the bride was born.

That place was Ringsfield House, and Nanango's Denise and Virgil Smith were grateful to be able to celebrate the momentous occasion on its grounds.

The connections to Ringsfield House run deep for the Smith family, as Denise and Virgil's son Beau Smith leased the property 18 months ago, and it is managed by his partner Nathan Hendy.

Surrounded by family and friends, Mr and Mrs Smith renewed their vows in the Ringsfield House chapel.

Beau and Nathan set up the reception on the driveway that wraps around the main house.

The garden was decorated with fairy lights and a gallery of prints were displayed along the hedges from the couple's wedding on January 6, 1968.

"I have a great affinity for Ringsfield House," Mrs Smith said.

"We felt very special to have renewed our vows there."

 

Ringsfield House is one of the many listings on the South Burnett Regional Council's Heritage Register.
Ringsfield House is one of the many listings on the South Burnett Regional Council's Heritage Register. Tessa Mapstone

Ringsfield House has had many feet walk through its doors after the property was originally purchased in 1907 by Florence Graham, using a large sum of money she had inherited.

Mrs Graham commissioned a well-known Queensland architect, Robin Dods, to design the historic house.

Typical features of his style include large bay windows and built-in cupboards.

After tragedy struck and Mrs Graham's husband died, she remarried, to Frank Sullivan.

Matron Flo Rickett rented the building from Mrs Sullivan in 1942, and turned it into a maternity hospital.

 

Ringsfield House pictured circa 1922.

Photo contributed
Ringsfield House pictured circa 1922. Contributed

More than 3000 babies were delivered in the maternity ward between 1942 and 1970, including Mrs Smith, yet the birth register is not complete.

"Every now and then we will have someone tell us they were born here and the ladies at the history centre situated in the Nanango State School within the grounds will add it to the record and update the data," Mrs Smith said.

Mrs Smith's connection with Nanango stretches further back than her birth at the treasured landmark.

Her family has been in the area since her grandfather bought property in 1907, and she said the town and Ringsfield House, were strong parts of her roots.

Mrs Smith, a retired home economics teacher, taught in numerous towns around Queensland including Murgon, Ingham, Atherton and Corinda.

But she and her husband have been back in the region for more than 40 years and Mrs Smith taught for the majority of her career in Nanango.

Mr and Mrs Smith and their three children have enjoyed all their township has to offer.

"I like being able to walk down the street and see people that I know and also get involved in local community events," Mrs Smith said.

"I find the support from the locals to be amazing."

 

Nathan Hendy and Beau Smith are the new managers of Ringsfield House.
Nathan Hendy and Beau Smith at Ringsfield House. Katherine Morris

As Ringsfield House continues to expand, there are many activities and events that are held at the grounds, such as weddings, wakes, a writer's group, and businesses and the local council sometimes hold meetings in the conference room.

There is also a tai chi class held in the gardens and a community share event held every third Sunday of the month.

Mrs Smith volunteers as required, and if the weather is permitting, she also hosts an arts and crafts session during the school holidays.

When asked if she could imagine Nanango without Ringsfield House, Mrs Smith said she couldn't.

"We refer to Ringsfield as the gem of the South Burnett and appreciate all of the support from the locals," she said.

To check out what's on at Ringsfield House, visit the website or Facebook page.